25 years ago - Ray Terrill is born the son of Lanford Terrill, having been genetically manipulated in utero to enhance his metapowers. S.H.A.D.E. places him in a foster home for observation. He grows up believing he is light-allergic.
8 years ago - 17-year-old Ray Terrill's foster father is killed in a car accident. He discovers his light manipulation powers, and the truth about his actual father, 47-year-old Lanford Terrill. He takes up the name the Ray, confronting S.H.A.D.E. When Lanford learns the truth about them, he turns on them, sacrificing his life to save his son.
3 years ago - 22-year-old Ray sacrifices himself to help save the rest of the Justice League from the White Martian attack.
While the name 'The Ray' will usually be associated with the classic golden age character, who was passed about through different publishers dating all the way back to 1940, Readers like myself who grew up in the 90's will always remember this version of the character. Born right in the middle of DC's push to redesign it's classic characters with new edgier stories, This was essentially a brand new character using a classic name. He had the benefit of some really great design work, and for a time, was absolutely everywhere. We've chosen to give him a small but very prominent role in our timeline, and happen to think it works really well.
The Ray's Comic History
Ray Terrill was created in 1992, and he very much looks like it. He was part of an influx of new characters with their own books, created by Jack Harris and future Marvel Editor-In Chief Joe Quesada.
The beats of Ray's origin story are now familiar territory, introducing new characters based on classic golden age heroes and infusing them with a sense of purpose and destiny that fueled the forward narrative of the book. This sort of thing very much became the norm in following years as they brought back the Justice Society and other classic characters, but the Ray told that story in a much more 90's way, infused with a very of-the-era sense of angsty edginess. Still, it was a good read.
Later, Ray became a regular member of the Justice League, featured regularly across several eras of the team, and then became a later recruit into the teen hero book Young Justice. Eventually, he was recruited to fill his father's place in the rebuilt Freedom Fighters team, and would be redesigned as an entirely new character in the New 52.
Our Ray Story
Ray is kind of an artifact of his era, but he actually does work pretty well as a character that fits into the tapestry of our timeline. His actual age is a little open to interpretation because he was clearly being depicted as older when he was in the Justice League and then younger when he was in Young Justice, but in either case he clearly works as a youthful, self-sacrificing hero.
We've chosen to focus his story largely on his relationship with his father, which is a pretty great tale of heroes being manipulated by shadow organizations. Once that story is told and his father has sacrificed himself to give him a chance to be a hero, we made him one of the heroes to join the Justice League in the aftermath of their battle with Doomsday. This is in keeping with his place in the actual comic continuity.
And finally, while we could have found further uses for him in our timeline, there is something that's actually pretty poetic about him sacrificing himself to save the Justice League during the Martian Invasion. There's an element of tragedy in the legacy of the Ray. It's a smaller, simpler story, but making him be the hero that allows everyone to survive, it brings the character to a conclusion that feels wholly correct. He's absolutely the hero he deserves to be.